Pope Says Abortion Is Never Allowed, Even When Fetus Is Gravely Sick

Amid stormy public debate on anti-abortion legislation, Pope Francis compares the procedure to 'hiring a hitman to resolve a problem'

Pope Francis receives members of the Eparchy of Lungro that brings together Italian-Albanian Catholics, at the Vatican May 25, 2019.
Vatican Media/Handout via REUTERS

Pope Francis says abortion can never be condoned, even when the fetus is gravely sick or malformed. He is urging doctors and priests to support families to carry such pregnancies to term.

During an audience Saturday with participants of a Vatican-sponsored anti-abortion conference, Francis said opposition to abortion isn't a religious issue but a human one: "Is it licit to throw away a life to resolve a problem? Is it licit to hire a hitman to resolve a problem?"

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Francis denounced decisions to abort based on prenatal testing, saying a human being is "never incompatible with life."

Francis has spoken out strongly against abortion, though he has also expressed sympathy for women who have had them and made it easier for them to be forgiven.